The expurgated version, edition 5.

Happy at Work

Meet Colin and Happy – it’s not her real name but a nice one she likes to go by. Together they make and adorn stunningly beautiful wooden flutes to traditional designs using traditional materials – although not always by traditional methods. It’s an ideal creative combination, a yin-yang balance that seems to work very well for them: he brings out the form, she gives it magic.

Colin at the bench router








Colin is born-and-bred Purbeck and still calls Swanage home; Happy has migrated from far-distant Cornwall (which is down south), although admittedly they’re spending more time these days on their narrow boat moored somewhere up in the home-counties (north and never too far). From what we’ve seen of both habitats, it’s clear they like to be surrounded by timber – with wooden panelling and flooring a predominant feature of both decors. It bespeaks an affinity with the material that is detectable in the flutes themselves: they are quite evidently produced with care and skilled attention to detail or, as they would have it, “Made with Love.”

He likes to experiment with wood types though he has a penchant for mahogany maple is fav, American black walnut, tulip wood (kind of poplar), a bit of idbo and seasoned pine, – ‘Anything I can get my hands on. Reclaimed or off-cuts – older the better. Nice to turn a bit of old scrap into something beautiful. Different timbers produce differing tones, and varying dimensions of the instruments generate further distinctions. Although each instrument is tuned and may be played in concert, each is also unique with no two tones being identical. These pages show the first oak flute Colin ever made and, in case you’re wondering, the finished instrument has a lovely warm and mellifluous sound, a little breathy in a pan-pipe way, evocative of sylvan meadows and campfire smoke. In fact, the original oak plank had once been part of a footplate that welcomed guests to his parents’ kitchen door for over forty years. Colin reckons it may well have been over a hundred years since the day it was milled – and who knows how old the tree was when it was felled or salvaged.

Tuning, flute mounted in a vice
Piscean template
Gluing the routed halves
Golden Ratio Calipers
Golden Ratio Calipers
Happy uses a pyrographic tool to burn-in the watery design
Routing the inside of the flute wall
















The Full version of this article will be available online to PURBECK! Journal members in the near future, or read the hardcopy version, edition 5, Spring/Summer 2013.